Stage Left’s TOMMY: Energetic Cast in a Beautiful Venue

by John Hughes

Stage Left Productions recently raised the curtain on THE WHO’S TOMMY in their new venue, The Eagle Theatre in Hammonton. For those readers who may not be familiar with this story, it’s the tale of  Tommy,  a “deaf, dumb and blind kid” who retreats into a catatonic state after witnessing a violent act as a young boy. Along the way, Tommy is molested, taunted and brutalized; he then discovers a talent for pinball, gets rich and famous, develops a cult-like following, but really can’t handle all the fame and longs for a quiet, normal life.

Andrew Cox, Collin Maier, Brian Bortnick, Jennie Knackstedt and Sean Casey star in Stage Left Productions' THE WHO'S TOMMY, at the Eagle Theatre in Hammonton through June 25.

In Stage Left’s production Tommy is played by three actors, one at 4, one at 10, and the young adult Tommy. In this production 4 year old Tommy is played by Scott Bonerbo, a nine year old with a very bright future on stage. The 10 year old Tommy is double cast and in the performance that I saw it was played by the excellent eight year old Samuel Bortnick who impressively managed to maintain his character through very difficult situations. The young adult Tommy is played by Brian Bortnick, proud father of Sam, who gave a very solid performance all around but really excelled when he got to his solo “I’m Free”. Captain Walker is played by Collin Maier, who gives a stellar performance and really elevates the show when he is on stage. Mrs. Walker is played by Jennie Knackstedt who portrays a very convincing troubled mother throughout. Uncle Ernie is played by Andrew Cox who managed to be both incredibly creepy and sympathetic at the same time, his performance was the most nuanced of the group. Sean Casey gave an enjoyable performance as Cousin Kevin. The ensemble was solid throughout with moments of vocal brilliance; however, the choreography was too big for the stage which often forced dancers to not fully execute moves.

The tech work was excellent throughout and the set designs were perfect for the space.

Overall,  this was a very enjoyable performance put on by a very energetic cast in a beautiful venue.

by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff
June 10-25, 2011
Stage Left Productions
At The Eagle Theatre
208 Vine St
Hammonton, NJ 08037

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bill June 15, 2011 - 5:29 pm

I have seen many productions of tommy over the years and i did not enjoy this one at all. They could have done so much more with it what a shame.

John June 15, 2011 - 10:02 pm

Really Bill? I also saw it and felt it was one of the better productions of Tommy I’ve seen. I’ve seen 4 shows at The Eagle now and am happy this production company is in town. I’m a Tommy fan. This one was very, very good. Couldn’t disagree with Bill’s comment more.

john June 16, 2011 - 12:39 am

agreed, bill.

Samantha June 15, 2011 - 10:13 pm

I agree with this review 100%. The only thing I would say is the night I was there they had a couple technical issues. But it didn’t matter. I’m sure they are getting worked out. It’s the joy of live theatre. This cast is professional and the atmosphere is tremendous. I am curious to know what the poster above meant when he said they could’ve done more?? And a shame? How is it a shame? Live theatre and different interpretations are a beautiful thing. You don’t have to like the show. But a shame? A little harsh. This was a terrific show. Some of these performers were better than any I’ve seen in a long while. Nice job Eagle Theatre!.

Gayle June 16, 2011 - 1:24 pm

Loved, loved, loved the show. I came with a party of 6 and everyone was thrilled. This was our 2nd show that we’ve seen this group do (Last Five Years being the first, which was also excellent). Not a weak performer among the cast. Thanks for a great night out! This review is dead on.


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